Food Entrepreneur thinking

Market Rearch vs Market Intelligence

What is the difference between market research and market Intelligence?

Market research, market intelligence – you’ve heard the words and wonder what the difference is. Or maybe you’ve heard the words and just immediately feel the pain of how much time it will take when there are so many other things that need attention in your business. It’s just so easy to put this critical aspect on the back burner.

First, the difference. Market research focuses on gathering information to gain an understanding of the market for your product(s) and the target market. Market intelligence is defined by the use of market research and analysis. It includes gathering information on your competitors and setting up processes in-house that allows you to continually capture new information for analysis. Which leads to the next critical component of market intelligence – analyzing and interpreting that new information on an on-going bases so that you can make any changes that are needed in your strategies.

Your Product Needs To Be ‘On Trend’

One area of research you should want to focus on is trends. And it’s very important to understand trends – in other words doing the research on them, following any changes in those trends and then analyzing the implications on your strategies. Retailers will be the first to tell you that to get on to their shelves, your product needs to be ‘on trend’.

Clean labelling to Clear labelling

If you weren’t paying attention to the trends for example, you would have missed the shift in the trend from clean labelling to clear labelling. It still causes confusion. Clean labels started drawing the attention of trend experts by the early part of this decade. Even though there was no regulatory definition for clean labels, they were generally considered to focus on transparency assuring the consumer that the product was minimally processed, used whole, natural ingredients and perhaps even contained no allergens resulting in a proliferation of product claims.


Companies conducting their research however would have noticed a shift to the term clear labels. Innova Market Insights (IMI) pointed out that by 2014, almost 25% of all new food and beverage product launches had transitioned to clear labels – focusing not only on transparency but also simplicity on product packaging – and as Lu Ann Williams of IMI describes it, “highlighting the naturalness and origin of their [manufacturers] products”. So you can imagine the implication (and opportunity) for you – labels that trace a story of simple, natural ingredients, where they are sourced and where they can find out more information about your product and company. The implication is that you will need a great website that is easily accessible (i.e. mobile friendly!) and tells your story.
And for those food companies that had been doing their research on an ongoing basis, they were on the leading edge of the trend and been counted by IMI within that 25% of new product launches with clear labels.

Trend Watching

Make no mistake about it. You can waste lots of time by going off on tangents when you are gathering information. Following the example of trend watching, identify some key sources, then track those sources over time for new or updated information: credible organizations such as IMI, Euromonitor International, Datamonitor, Mintel, New Nutrition Business Journal. They will keep you up to date on shifting trends.

Being off trend increases the probability of you being delisted or not listed all. But trends are only one focus of the research/intelligence continuum. Examples of other areas to keep watch over are: demographics and the target market (everything used to focus on the opportunity with the Boomers and now a major focus is the Millenials!); the competition (see Debra’s blog on There’s always competition”); the regulatory environment; the supply chain; etc. You’ll need all that research to develop your marketing plan that results in sales!

Don’t let market ‘research’ or ‘intelligence’ confuse or overwhelm you. Think of it as a necessary business activity that will pay off and involves: 1) continual information gathering; 2) analyzing what you learn; 3) assessing the implications; and 4) making changes to your strategies.
Remember – stay focused on what you are searching out.

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